Another Week, Another Lesson to Learn

Photo by Deanna Lewis on Unsplash

Welcome back to another Friday!!

This week was long, but even more so, it was HOT. It’s been in the 90’s for the past few days here in SLO and my wardrobe is as confused as I am. Even so, we keep on keeping on. 

Because with long weeks comes more time for good moments, and let me tell ya, there were a few.

First of all, I’m a fourth year here but I’ve only just started going downtown on weekends this year (shoutout to my roommate) and I have to say, dancing can do so much good for you. Almost nothing compares to taking a few hours to shut off your brain and turn on your rhythm instead—it’s not about always thinking about life so much as it’s about feeling it too.

Some people do yoga, IM teams, biking, etc. and some of those take skills, equipment, or teams.

All dancing requires is a body and a solid beat to move to. That’s it. If you’ve seen what Grey’s Anatomy used to be, you might remember Meredith and Yang solving problems by “dancing it out.”

Photo by Drew Graham on Unsplash

I get it now. Sometimes life necessitates taking a step back from everything and I am beginning to find that dancing is one incredible way to do it.

I’m just saying. Try it, you won’t regret it.

Beyond that, I also realized that I register for the second to last time of my undergraduate career in under two weeks. My senior project forms are officially turned in, my fiction writing workshop is (almost) set for next quarter, and this quarter is forcing me into creative limits I haven’t pushed before.

I’m running out of time but I am also growing, a lot. It’s incredible.

My digital projects have been taking a lot of time with software I have never used before, but they’re also turning out quite well. These days, I have projects that I lose sleep over just to make it something I can be proud of—I’m lucky for that.

Even regarding things that I love too much not to be insecure about.

Here’s what I mean:

Three weeks ago, the first six pages of my novel were handed out in class, read aloud, and picked apart. Brutally. After feeling as if I’d found my groove again and a voice that I was consistently proud of, I was honestly really discouraged. These were stories and characters that I’ve been thinking about for the past year of my life, that I’ve fallen for, constructed, and molded into people I can almost touch. 

I have never been so passionate about and dedicated to a story and its characters—they’re real to me in a way I can’t explain.

Leaving class that day, though, I felt like it wasn’t enough.

That feeling is never something easy to move through. Whether it’s feeling like your work can’t meet expectations, you don’t quite measure up, or something about what you’re doing just isn’t enough… It’s hard. Even when you move past it, it’s hard.

Sitting on those pages for days, thinking and overthinking just what I needed to do to make it work, I was unhappy with the writing I defined myself by. All of it. 

I couldn’t touch any of it for fear that it would only get worse from there. With a deadline yesterday, I knew I had work to do and still put it off until the last minute when I truly had no other options but to do what needed to be done. 

Photo by Angelina Litvin on Unsplash

So in the hours before it was due, I took the boundaries of what I set for my story and I pushed every single one of them, again and again, before printing my copies and bringing them with open hands to class. 

And they loved it. My two workshop partners, both writers I highly appreciate and respect, loved my story. They want me to keep going.

So do I.

At some point, in doing my work and chasing my passions, I forgot that I needed to be my own advocate along the way. I forgot that no matter what anyone else says, we need to be the ones pushing ourselves to keep going or to go out dancing and shut off our brains when we need to or believe in what we do, otherwise sometimes no one else will.

That, and sometimes on the other side of that, if you ever need someone to be your hype person, all you need to do is ask. Trust me, there is always someone out there who believes in everything you are.

What else are the people you love for if not to remind you of that love when you need it?

Because if you had a week like mine, it was filled with ups & downs, lefts & rights, and maybe a little too much heat.

Photo by Ryan Tauss on Unsplash

But it was also filled with moments that could have lasted forever and reassurance that you just might have needed.

Some weeks are like that. The good, the bad, and everything in between. These days, I think I’m learning to be okay with that. If you’re not, I dare you to do something about it.

I know I am.

Happy Friday, see you next week. 

Why Trust Is Hard and That’s Okay

“It is more important to go slow and gain the lessons you need along the journey then to rush the process and arrive at your destination empty.”

– Germany Kent

the-journal-garden-vera-bitterer-682529-unsplash (1).jpgThings don’t always go as planned, we all know that by now.

Maybe sometimes that itus down, makes us doubt ourselves, or even stop moving altogether.

Because it’s hard to trust the process when you don’t know what’s coming next.

And that’s okay.

A lot of our lives are fully scripted; I know the beginning of my path was: get through grade school, make sure grades are enough for a good college, then get through college and make sure grades are enough for whatever comes next whether it’s more school, a job, or something completely different.

There were a whole lot of decisions made and plans mapped out to get me to where I am right now.

So why doesn’t it look like that I thought it was supposed to?

Do any of our plans?

I think we move too fast, trying too hard to get to where we think we need to be only to replace that goal with a new one, a little farther away. We never slow down to reconsider our directions, to let ourselves fail and adapt, or to readjust for whatever burdens come our way.

Just because it seems like everything is supposed to be planned out doesn’t mean that things we don’t plan for aren’t going to come crashing into our lives, straight down the middle of that timeline you’ve got set.

That’s when we need to trust the process.

When things change and so do we.

When new lessons come our way we we have to remember to learn them.

When the journey starts to look a little too long and our bodies are tired…

Even when it’s hard. Trust process.

If you trust it and things turn out well, you’re better for it.

If you don’t trust it and things don’t turn out so okay, you let the pieces fall where they may and rearrange them until you find your way back.

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Photo by freddie marriage on Unsplash

No matter what you do, these lessons and paths and failures and hopes, they will change you if you take the time to notice them. It doesn’t mean you have to always be okay with whatever is going on, but I think all of us could use a little faith sometimes.

Like Germany Kent said, it would be a shame to turn up to the end of your journey empty. Let the lessons and the change fill you up and rearrange who you are with the life you hold as you make your way through that journey.

Trust yourself. Even when it’s hard.

Happy Friday and I hope to see you all on Tuesday.

 

Simply Unapologetic

I don’t know if I’ve ever mentioned this before, but there is one thing I don’t think a lot of people understand just how much I appreciate— I love people watching. I know dan-freeman-404566there are a lot of people out there who spend their time doing it too, sitting around while pretending to be productive while instead watching the world move around you.

You see some pretty odd things.

I remember last year, a friend of mine who had just committed to Cal Poly asked me something, and I couldn’t help but remember saying that same thing a year earlier: “I don’t know if I’m going to be able to find anyone as weird as I am.” It’s funny, it doesn’t take much time to realize that we’re all pretty weird in our own ways. Call it a quirk or eating cereal with warm milk instead of cold (feel free to judge me, it’s great), everyone has their thing.

Don’t believe me? Well…

Do you remember that I wrote most of my blog posts from my dorm’s third floor common room last year? I spent a lot of time there, possibly too much time, but I liked it better that way; seeing people every day and always saying catching new names. I got to experience everyone else every single day just by putting myself in their paths. And let me tell you something about that common room, things always got weird.

jeremy-perkins-281322Though I don’t need to name exactly what the test was, I can tell you that my main group of friends became a group by taking an inappropriate, funny, and somewhat intrusive online test for maybe fifteen minutes each before putting our scores up on the whiteboard to compare. Then we all proceeded to bother anyone who walked through that room to take the test with us and put their score up too. Even our RA got in on the fun so it couldn’t have been that bad, it was just a harmless, fun way to get people out of their comfort zones a little and into the mindset of holding nothing back.

That’s what these four years are all about.

The point is, we all came into college with our own personalities, ethics, morals, and ideas of who we were or what we wanted. I came in as pretty shy, somewhat reserved and quiet, while my friends… They were kind of like me, while at the same time they weren’t at all. That’s the complicated part, put them in the common room with me and they were always the loudest people in the room. They did whatever they wanted because they were confident in who they were enough to disregard what anyone else might say or think about it.

zachary-nelson-192289Now put them in a bigger space, and it all depends on the atmosphere— yet I can guarantee they were still the loudest people in the room. I admired that so much, let me tell you, the way each of them have grown more into who they are this year; chasing majors they care about, joining groups they like, and becoming more of the person they know themselves to be.

They are unapologetically themselves.

I think that’s what’s missing in a lot of people, not only being genuine, but being okay with it. Do you know how rare that is? To not even be fully confident in who you are or where you’re headed in life, but to still do everything as if you are. To be unapologetic. To be genuine. To be you. It’s a beautiful thing.

I think that’s one reason I like people watching so much, I can catch little glimpses of who people are and what they’re all about by simply witnessing a moment where they aren’t filtering themselves for one thing or another. We all spend so much time on work and 140 characters (280 if you’re lucky) to say what you want to say while still contemplating how you want yourself to be seen. Self-doubt comes from that idea of not being secure or confident in who we believe ourselves to be, but held back by how we feel we should be, how we think we’re supposed to be.

If you take away anything, take this: You don’t have to hold back.

mi-pham-223464I don’t know about anyone else, but sometimes it feels pretty good to let go of that, to be who you are. So for my sophomore year here at Cal Poly, one of my goals is to become more genuine, not quite to fake it until I make it, but truly to make it. And no longer feel the need to fake it. I’ve spent a lot of time not talking or holding things back for the past year here when I don’t have to, when it’s all just a part of who I am. As a challenge to myself, I am ready to get over my self-set boundaries, rip up my cool card, and take a step forward in more than just my career.

This year, I am ready to be unapologetic. Are you?

How to “Do Good Work”

Almost two weeks back home now and I’ve been catching up on my reading lists little by little. By now, I’ve read at least 2,500 pages between about 5 books, added far too many quotes to my quote wall, and found one book that I am discovering so much in that I just had to share it with you all.morgan-harper-nichols-157838.jpg

In 1999, Stephen King wrote a book called On Writing, a memoir on the craft of writing itself. Though I like it for its specificity to what I want to do for the rest of my life, I have found that a lot of it applies to anything else in this world too. There are a few quotes I could pull from it that really stand out to me, but there is one that I think I like just a little more than the others— you’ll see why in a second.

Keep in mind that mind that we live in a world where the work never stops, people are always moving, multitasking (no, not orange) is the new black, and the sky isn’t quite the limit anymore. The limit seems to be wherever we decide to put it; we’re the only one’s who have that power when it comes to our own work. Take my writing for example, I’m only as good as I put in the work to be— if I don’t have time to read then I will never have time to write. That’s the limit. For other people, it could be a mental block, holding themselves back when they could do more and be more if that was something they truly wanted. It’s not always about the time, but the work we put in towards whatever goal we are trying to reach.

Like Stephen King said, “Sometimes you’re doing good work when it feels like all you’re managing is to shovel shit from a sitting position.”

Ever felt like that?

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I know we’ve all been there, almost like trying to make yourself go to the gym but all you can seem to do take a short walk on your lunch break  instead. Or every time you try to create something new and better than the last thing you did, it turns out to be so much less than you had hoped it would be…

It’s called trying. The key phrase in King’s quote is that still, you’re doing good work.

Have you ever taken a video and then watched it, only to cringe at the sound of your own voice in the background? I know I really don’t like hearing myself on video, most people don’t. But if you ask anyone else if it sounds as annoying as you think, they’ll probably say no. It’s all in your head.

Now take this idea and extend it to the work you do or the effort you put into different aspects of your life— just because it doesn’t quite turn out the way you want it to or falls short of your expectation doesn’t mean it isn’t just as important as all of your successes., even if you can’t see that. The big idea behind it all is perseverance, I don’t know where any of us would be without it.

I am nineteen years old, the last time I can still claim the title of teenager, and quite possibly the final year I can keep my grip on the chunk of adolescence I know I’m going to lose hold of within the next year. My friends are all growing up, getting engaged, moving away, tanner-larson-297481and pursuing a future for themselves. My parents and my friends parents are all gearing up to finish what they started with us, sending the last of us to college, taking vacations without us, and finding their way to the hopeful retirement that seems to keep upping the age every year.

Yet it seems that no matter where we’re at in this moment or where we’re headed in the near future, we’re probably going to hit a few roadblocks and end up “shoveling shit” in the process. That doesn’t mean we should quit, and that definitely doesn’t mean we’re not good at what we do. I think it just means we’re human.  And as humans, whether we know it or not, we will always find our way back to doing good work when we’re ready to.

 

How to build a life

Week 7 here at Cal Poly is over and it’s really odd to think about the fact that I almost didn’t end up at this school. Things would have been so different, from the 80 degree weather without humidity to the 4 weeks we still have left in the quarter. In all honesty, I got pretty lucky with some of the people I have met that I never would have known otherwise— I only have a handful of close friends joshua-clay-27368here but that’s more than I could have asked for. There is one thing that somehow balanced out, one place I’m really glad worked out the way it did…

My roommates. Keep in mind, I did a random roommate assignment.

On my first night here, only one of my roommates (Celeste) was sleeping in the dorms since the other (Rachel), was with her parents. We both went to bed at the same time, with the whole awkward changing and “oh, do you want me to turn off the light or do you want to do that” routine. Looking back, our adjustment is almost comical. I think that night is one of my favorites though, because after we both climbed up into our beds, neither of us slept for the next two and a half, maybe 3 hours. Why? We were talking about Harry Potter. Ironically enough, both of us brought all 8 movies with us and she has read the books more times than I have. Before we knew it, two people who were randomly thrown into a room for three quarters together who barely knew each other just started talking and went from there. It was fantastic.

Guess what happened two nights ago…

All three of us went to bed around 12— we didn’t sleep until 3:30.arnaud-mesureur-132213.jpg

It’s nights like those when the conversation goes from the best tv shows of our childhoods and favorite books, to the idea of love and the flaws of humanity, I have come to really appreciate some of the people I have met here. The people I would have never met if I had gone to Howard. It all ties back into that idea of “what if.” Like what if Nick never got in off the waitlist, or what if I decided to not go to college at all? Everything could have been completely different, yet everything could have been the same just with different people and different circumstances involved.

That’s the thing, we never really know.

Talking with my roommates on Tuesday, sometime within that 3 hour block of the night, we came up on the subject of vulnerability and how it can really change who we are. When it comes down to it, vulnerability almost seems to be the key to change. Think about it: when you apply for a job, or a college, or even an account on social media, you are allowing yourself to be rejected or even setting yourself up to be subjected to things that may not always make you feel good. Here at college, everything you do, from making friends (hey do you want to hang out sometime) to trying to master a subject area, it all comes back to allowing ourselves to be let down. In doing so, we also give ourselves a chance to hear the word yes, or realize that what we do does pay off.

web-agency-29200We never know how it will work out until we try it. But I’ve got to say, it’s kind of nice when it pays off.

I’ve only been here for 8 months, but in that time I can say that I have met some people who I hope stay in my life for long enough to at least meet my kids. Of course, there’s Nick, but now I’ve got people like first and longest friend here, Brianne, or my two wonderful roommates to add to the list. Like I said, I got lucky. I don’t really know if it was Celeste or me who started the conversation about Harry Potter, and I can’t quite say how Bri ended up in my summer orientation group, first week of school orientation group, Chem/Biochem major struggle, and the second floor of my dorm, but somehow it all just happened. Maybe I
opened myself up by saying the first hello, and sometime over summer maybe Celeste and I mentioned that we both love Harry Potter… I just know that I would probably have never met these people if I didn’t come here and for that reason, I appreciate the concept of vulnerability.

By appealing to this school, I gave them a second chance to say no. By choosing to accept their yes, I gave myself a chance to feel out of place. And by making it through (4 more weeks) my first year of college, I have given life a chance to prove me wrong every time I think I’ve done something right.

That’s the point.aaron-burden-189321

Sometimes things will work out exactly the way we wanted and other times we will end up on another path that leads us to something better. The only way we get there is to keep going, to keep trying, and of course, to keep making new friends along the way.  

You never know, maybe you’ll get lucky.

Time Flies When…

And just like that, week 6 of the quarter is now over. I would say finally, but it seems a little too bittersweet for that. We are now over halfway through our final quarter of freshman year here at Cal Poly and the atmosphere is starting to change ever so slightly. You know those moments when you know something is coming but nobody wants to talk about it? Everyone is gearing up for the end, the mass exodus from the dorms and the entirety of our first year here. But just as excited as people seem to leave, we all seem to be holding on just a little tighter too.stefan-kunze-26932.jpg

It’s almost as if the stress, the lack of sleep, and the never-ending midterms are all worth it in the end when the pay-off is bigger than us— we get the ultimate experience. Think about it, we live with all of our friends, food is maybe a 2 minute walk away (unless you live in the towers or apartments), you can get up late and still make it to class on time, and if you’re looking for a party, you don’t have to go too far. Despite the occasional burnt bag of popcorn that leaves a room smelling like fire for at least a week, the freshman set up really isn’t so bad. I guess you could say it’ll be something worth missing.

But maybe that’s the point; the closer to the end we get, the more we realize how much we might miss something. As my parents like to “suggest“/remind me of, college only lasts for 4 years, and I have to take this opportunity to make the most of it. Is that why I went to a concert on Wednesday night when I had a midterm Thursday morning? Maybe… The point is that we all have to live our lives in a way we won’t regret all the things we didn’t do by the time we start really missing the youth we will no longer have.

Even though I’ve been a college student for about eight months now, I’m just starting to realize that college life really is a world of its own. This is the in-between. We are largely unsupervised, but still hold the integrity of paying for whatever we walk across that maria-mekht-149860.jpgstage with. We come in knowing barely anyone and leave in less than a year with people who know us better than some of the people we spent the last eighteen years of our lives with. And for some people, we left trying to get out of a town that we can’t wait to appreciate nine months later.

So here I sit, third floor common room just like I started out this year, and I am writing one of the final blog posts of my freshman year. As I look at the calendar, there are only five Fridays left here before I head back home for five weeks of summer before my summer session classes begin here. Five weeks seems like forever, but so did an entire three quarters here. And look where we are now.

Time flies when you’re…

When you’re what? I’ll be honest, this year has not been as much fun for me as I’m sure it was for some people. From a major science struggle to basically changing the direction of my future and building friendships I wasn’t sure would survive, fun is not quite the word I would use for this year. But the thing is, time still did pass me by a lot faster than I was prepared for. Like I said, I will only be a freshman for five more weeks. I guess it makes me wonder, how did the seasons change so quickly? Maybe it wasn’t all fun, and yes, it was a struggle, but it was still my life for the past eight months. And that counts for something right? So how about this:

Time flies when you go to a concert despite a midterm the next morning, time flies when you spend three hours in bed talking to your roommate about Harry Potter, time flies when you have exams to prepare for and classes to admittedly sleep through…arno-smit-83025.jpg

Time flies when you remember to live— So this year, I hope you remembered to do the same.

P.S. If there are ever any topics you want to hear me write about or anything you want me to cover, feel free to leave it in the comments section below! Keep and eye out for a Mother’s Day post on Sunday 🙂

A Lesson Before Leaving

Maybe it’s just the way time passes, but 11 weeks later, and I’m headed back home again. My finals for this quarter finished up on Tuesday and I am officially 2/3 the way through my freshman year.

And they say time flies.

This quarter has been quite a hard one for a lot of us here, especially without the week break we had for Thanksgiving last quarter. It seemed almost as if once we started, there was no stopping until it was over. Though I’ve learned a lot from my classes this quarter, I mean that is the goal isn’t it, I think I’ve learned the most from what was happening outside of them.

What is the most important idea I came across this quarter? Well, it is simply that plans change.

I came into college with certain expectations of what it would be like, until first quarter came around to adjust them a little bit. From there, I entered second quarter with high hopes but somewhat low expectations for these 11 weeks– after all, I would much rather a pleasant surprise than disappointment.

Then we got to week 4, midterms week, as I looked at my friend who was suffering through Chem with me, and our expectations sank a little lower. That’s when we both knew we were both switching out of our majors.

That’s when I knew that things were changing.

Keeping in touch with friends from home, it seems to me that many of our paths have changed a few times since we all graduated together. Some of us are switching majors, some of are switching schools, others are going into the military and of course, some paths are yet to be paved. Even so, with all the deviations and decisions we are finding ourselves coming up against, we are all still moving forward towards the futures we are no longer so sure about.

In the words of late actress and author Gilda Radner, “I wanted a perfect ending. Now I’ve learned, the hard way, that some poems don’t rhyme, and some stories don’t have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what’s going to happen next.”

Maybe it has come from years of reading books or watching movies where everything seemed so cut and dry; there was a beginning, a middle, and an end, maybe some conflict throughout with a sound resolution before it was all over. I used to think that if I set my mind to something then nothing could derail my future.

Funny thing is, the one “derailing ” my future is me. Except now I don’t see it as such a bad thing, I should have known the 10 year plan I made in Econ last year would change a little bit.

As much as we search for success and a sufficient job to build a life with in the future, this is the time when we are supposed to figure it all out, to wrap out heads around what it means to grow up.

Sometimes it seems as of the world around us keeps whispering to choose a path, find a route, and follow it. But maybe it’s not so simple. There are complications, diversions, new explorstions…

There are changes.

Not only have I experienced that this quarter, at this point I have found myself accepting it. For that is what this age is about, we’re not supposed to have it all figured out or know exactly how we are supposed to get there. At this point, as long as we know that there is something more we want out of this life, the next step is really just to take one.

Then take another.

Because before you know it, you’ve caught up to that 10 year plan and it’s not a plan anymore. It’s a reality.

Question is, is it a reality that changed for the better, or one that never changed at all?